Stem cell transplantation is an effective treatment for people with certain forms of cancer, such as leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma and neuroblastoma. And various non cancer conditions like Aplastic Anemia and Thalassemia.
This is a process of repleneshing body with normal healthy cells in place of cancerous cells.
What are stem cells?
These are special cells in the body which have capacity to devide , further specialise and form normal tissue
Who Is a Candidate For a Stem Cell Transplant?
While stem cell transplantaion was started as treatment modality for many relapsed and refractory cancers, now it has become standard of care for many cancers as upfront therapy.
Patients within 1 to 65 years can be offered this treatment most suitably though it has been reported to patients with 90 year age also.
Source of stem cells:
This is from either bone marrow , peripheral blood or umbilical cord.
Autologus : if the source is patient himself.e.g.patients with multiple myeloma received 4-6 months of induction therapy and when the bone marrow is free of disease he is subjected to autologous stem cell transplantation which doubles his disease free survival .
Allogenic : when somebody else is the donor. We prefer HLA mached siblings as allogenic donors.e.g.Acute leukemia , Thalassemia , Aplastic Anemia .
Collecting stem cells from donor:
The donor is primed with some injections of granulocyte colony stimulating factors so that we get good number of stem cells in collection.
High dose Chemotherapy and radiation:
The conditioning regimen before stem cell infusion consists of high dose chemotherapy with or without radiation .
What Happens During the Stem Cell Transplant?
The conditioning regimen prepares the atmosphere of engraftment of healthy cells. And once engrafted the stem cells form the normal cell environment which cures the patient.
What Are the Risks of Stem Cell Transplant?
Transplantation related morbidity, infections and graft versus host diseae complicate the picture but they are managable.
What is the success rate ?
It ranges from 50-80 %.